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Abercrombie extends voting on Hawaii island after delays

By Star-Advertiser staff

LAST UPDATED: 4:36 p.m. HST, Oct 23, 2012

Gov. Neil Abercrombie issued a proclamation this afternoon to extend polling hours on Hawaii island by 90 minutes after some precincts were delayed in opening.

Polling locations in Hawaii County will close at 7:30 p.m. while precincts on other islands are still scheduled to close at 6 p.m.

According to the governor’s office, the length of the delays at more than half the island's polling places varied from a few minutes to more than a half-hour, with one location opening almost 90 late.

"The most important issue in this situation is to make sure that everyone who wants to vote can vote. By extending the poll hours, we are making that possible,” Abercrombie said in a statement.

In his two-page proclamation the governor cited “unforeseen, technical and operational problems, including equipment malfunction and the untimely delivery of supplies to polling places caused widespread delays in the opening of numerous polling places on Hawaii island.” 

The proclamation came after a request from state Sen. Josh Green (D, Kailua-Kona), who complained about the delayed opening.

Green, who has no primary opponent in the district, said he asked state elections to extend the polling hours in three affected sites for two hours. But a state elections official said the law does not give the state elections officer that authority.

Polling hours can only be extended by the governor if there is a natural emergency, state elections spokesman Rex Quidilla said late this morning.

The proclamation, which was done in consultation with the state attorney general's office, said the governor by law has the authority to adjust voting hours.

Green said he was at the Kahakai polling place since 8 a.m. and his poll watchers reported that 20 to 30 people were turned away.

“Even my aunt couldn’t vote because she had to go to work,” he said.

Governor's proclamation extending election hours

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